Labour is calling or the government to deliver on its promise to set up a register of foreign owners of UK properties to prevent money laundering activities.
Two years ago ministers claimed 75% of the property industry supported tougher action against foreigners who use UK properties to wash their dirty cash and, with the support of Propertymark, published draft money laundering legislation requiring any foreign company buying or leasing properties in the UK to publicly reveal its beneficial owner and register their companies.
But this has yet to materialise and Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds is now calling for action to prevent homes being used as “dodgy bank accounts”.
Dodds (pictured) made the comments over the weekend at a meeting of the Labour Housing Group, saying the party was determined to press the government to take action and that it shouldn’t be punted in long grass because of Covid.
Fork in the road
“We are at a fork in the road,” she said. “The Conservatives could choose to focus their energies so that people in this country have affordable, decent homes to live in.
“They could finally set up a register of overseas entities to flush out the criminals using our homes as dodgy bank accounts. In doing so, they could secure a quicker, fairer and more sustainable economic recovery from the crisis.
“Or they could choose to leave things as they are. Too few houses available to be homes – with prices driven up by those who use property to hide illicit wealth. I urge the Conservatives to finally make the right call.”
Last year, when Boris Johnson’s promised to continue action against money laundering, lenders and estate agents combined made 34,151 suspicious activity reports (SARs) to the National Crime Agency, twice the number in 2015.